Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub has warned Rain that it will face network capacity constraints in the future, which can cost a lot of money to fix.
Speaking to eNCA’s Taking Stock, Joosub explained that Vodacom partnered with Rain to get access to their spectrum to address its network capacity constraints.
Rain’s network is not at full capacity, and it can serve Vodacom’s needs and offer data products to its own customers.
However, the first cracks started to show when Rain announced in July it would suspend the sale of its fixed-LTE products through partner ISPs.
Rain CEO Willem Roos said the strong sales of its fixed-wireless offering and the successful launch of its mobile product means they were rapidly using up the currently-available capacity on the network.
Joosub said the looming network congestion means that Rain will face the same challenges as Vodacom, especially in a spectrum-starved environment.
“It is easy when you have an empty network, but when you offer aggressive deals it quickly fills up,” he said.
“Mobile is a contended service which quickly fills up. It is possible for 10,000 or 20,000 customers to fill up your entire network with big data packages.”
When network congestion sets in, you have to improve your network to keep pace with the continued usage growth.
Without additional spectrum, network operators like Rain will therefore have to spend a lot of money on new sites.
While 5G will provide operators with more capacity, it will require many more sites because it uses much higher-frequency spectrum.